NEW YORK (AFP) — Five countries, led by Iran, account for all executions of children in the world, Human Rights Watch said Wednesday, urging an end to the practice.
Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen are the only countries that continue to impose the death penalty on people younger than 18 when they committed a crime. The United States outlawed execution of juvenile offenders in 2005.
The New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged the United Nations, which holds its annual General Assembly next week, to pressure for greater protections for children.
"We are only five states away from a complete ban on the juvenile death penalty," said HRW's Clarisa Bencomo. "These few holdouts should abandon this barbaric practice so that no one ever again is executed for a crime committed as a child."
All states have ratified or acceded to treaties ensuring that children are not sentenced to death, HRW said, but the five in question allow the punishment in certain cases.
According to HRW, Iran executed 26 of the 32 juveniles put to death since January 2005. Iranian law allows such penalties for girls of at least nine and boys of 15 or older, the report said.
Six juvenile offenders have been executed there this year, the report said.
Complicating the issue is the low rate of birth registration in some countries, making it very difficult to determine a defendant's true age, HRW said.
For example, "with more than 35 percent of Sudanese births not registered, even very young juvenile offenders can face execution because they have no birth certificates to prove their age at the time of the offense," HRW said.
Copyright © 2013 AFP. All rights reserved. More »